Konta overwhelms Halep to reach Wimbledon final four

Johanna Konta got past Romania's Simona Halep after three tension-filled sets to become the first British woman to reach the Wimbledon semifinals in almost 40 years.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Konta will face Venus Williams on Thursday as the first home semifinalist since Virginia Wade in 1978, the year after Wade won the title.

Johanna Konta secured a place in the Wimbledon semifinals on Tuesday after outclassing Simona Halep in a nail-biting three-set encounter to become the first British woman to reach the last four in almost 40 years.

In a match dripping with tension towards the business end of one of the most open women's grass court grand slams in years, Konta rode a wave of home support to win 6-7(2) 7-6(5) 6-4.

The sixth seed and second-seeded Halep were facing each other for the first time since a turbulent Fed Cup tie in April.

Konta, working hard to keep her opponent pinned behind the baseline, was bidding to book a date with Venus Williams on Thursday as the first home semi-finalist since Virginia Wade in 1978, the year after Wade won the title.

Halep, scampering from wing to wing as she soaked up the pressure, was one match from becoming the first Romanian to top the computerised world rankings – a distinction that, following her defeat, passed to Czech Karolina Pliskova.

"Right now it's a little bit surreal," she told the BBC after sealing victory in just under two-and-three-quarter hours.

"Simona ... was really not going to give me much for free so I definitely had to be the one out there to create my own chances and I felt I did that."

Konta said she was "excited and humble" to be facing Venus Williams.

“Incredible crowd”

The match closed on a surreal note, when the final point was punctuated by a spectator's scream, Halep lamely netting a forehand as she appealed in vain for a let.

In a nod to that episode, Konta described the crowd as incredible, adding: "I think they were a little over-enthusiastic in parts, but I definitely cannot complain with the amount of support and general good feeling they were wishing my way."

Tension-filled sets

Konta pounced on any error and broke serve to lead 3-0 as the sixth-seeded Briton, close to brimming over with nervous energy, struggled to keep her searing ground strokes in court.

Johanna Konta returns a shot in her epic quarter-final match against Simona Halep, in London, on July 11, 2017. (Reuters)

But Konta fought back,cranking up her serve and winning eight straight points to draw level at 4-4.

Halep won the first set on a tiebreak with Konta, having squandered a clutch of break points, returning the favour in the second.

The intensity moved up a notch in the third set before Konta broke in the fifth game and held her nerve to serve the match out.

The stadium erupted and, out on Henman Hill, the umbrellas of the fans massed in front of the big screen twirled.

"We've been to every (other) Konta match," said Glenda Powell from Farnham. "She gives the British people heart."

TRTWorld, Reuters